Adolescent Consultation Services supports and empowers court-involved children and families by providing mental health prevention and intervention services to help them move forward in a positive direction.
Adolescent Consultation Services was founded in 1973 in response to the specialized needs of court-involved children, focusing on their undiagnosed learning needs. In 1998, ACS was awarded the contract to provide Juvenile Court Clinic services throughout Middlesex County. The contract, administered by the Department of Mental Health (DMH), covers approximately 60% of ACS’s overall operating budget.
Today, ACS evaluates, counsels, and advocates for at-risk, court-involved kids and their families. We connect them with the resources they need to overcome obstacles due to trauma, family difficulties, and mental health issues. Private support allows ACS to offer critical Treatment and Education & Advocacy services to families served by the Juvenile Court Clinics in Cambridge, Lowell, Framingham, and Waltham.
The last few years have seen unprecedented change in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in Massachusetts. In November 2012, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) law, a revision of the previous Child in Need of Services (CHINS) law and in 2013 passed “Raise the Age” legislation which moved 17-year-old offenders from adult court jurisdiction to the juvenile system. Finally, with the continued implementation of the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), the threshold for placing a child in residential care continues to rise. More challenging cases are being handled on an outpatient basis and waiting lists are growing -- increasing the risk that vulnerable kids may return to problematic behavior patterns and engage in even riskier behavior. These various changes continue to have an impact on the juvenile court and child welfare systems as well as on the work performed by ACS.